This I Believe

Sam - Waukesha, Wisconsin
Entered on January 8, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: change, courage, hope, work

I am Sam. Sam I am. And, yes, I believe in green eggs and ham.

When I mention green eggs and ham, I don’t mean the discolored sun of the sunny side up or the deformed slab of partially cooked meat that have become a part of modern children’s literature. No, I’m talking about diving – not tiptoeing, not inching, not sliding, but diving – into the deep. This means trying something new and striving to achieve every single day, while always searching for new perspectives and ways of doing things, even if the end result isn’t always as one might expect. Just like the Seussian character who refuses to eat for the first fifty seven pages of the book, only by finding and gulping down our own green eggs and ham can we really live and grow.

While I have not always believed in green eggs and ham, I know that this belief would never have been possible without my father. A brilliant man, he grew up in China, excelling at just about everything. In a country of one billion people, millions of which are students, he was one of only a few to win a national science award. Furthermore, he started college at the age of sixteen and easily ranked at the top of his class, receiving his degree in record time.

It is safe to say that my father could have continued down this path and gone on to build a successful career and family in China, but he didn’t. Instead, he decided to immigrate to Canada and then the United States. On a cold day in 1993, he arrived, on his own, with just $1000 to his name and a very limited understanding of English. He went to school at the University of Manitoba on a scholarship during the day and slept on a cardboard box mattress at night.

But this was my father’s green eggs and ham. He dived in deep, so deep that he almost couldn’t float, but eventually, he persevered. Now, he has a PhD in Electrical Engineering and he holds four patents. Thanks to his remarkable journey, his family, myself included, can stand proud and strive to carry on in his footsteps.

Now, my father’s story seems to be repeating itself in me. As a relatively high achieving, straight A student, one would think that now I wouldn’t have to adapt and change, that the green eggs and ham in my life are negligible. I have realized that the complete opposite is true. Turning on the television, I see that the media and the public are captivated by young talent, no matter in the form of a musical prodigy, a future Babe Ruth, or a spelling champion.

Indeed, I, like many my age, think about the incredible, almost scary, talents of my peers. Whenever I do, I am reminded that the world is filled with many more talented people than are featured on TV. I realize that only by pushing myself to my limits and gulping down my green eggs and ham will I ever be able to stand amongst them, knowing that I too have done something great, just as my father does now.

For better or worse, I believe that the only way we can fully live is by stepping out into the void and meeting what comes with open arms, no matter what the challenge is. By demanding no less than the very best of ourselves and really taking green eggs and ham to heart, who knows what we might be able to accomplish?